PHOENIX (Friday March 11, 2011) -- Attorney General Tom Horne is warning Arizona consumers to be wary of advertisements and solicitations appearing in mailboxes or at homeowners’ front doors. Many solicitations appear to be an official notification, although the sender has no affiliation with any government agency. These mailers offer to provide services that are required by a governmental entity or services that will save the consumer money. Most often, those offers simply are “too good to be true” and should be avoided.
In November 2010, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office obtained a $628,066 consumer fraud judgment against Vahe Zakaryan and his business, Board of Business Compliance. Operating from California, Mr. Zakaryan sent deceptive official-looking solicitations to Arizona business owners requesting an annual fee of $125. The mailing misled business owners into believing the fee and form were required by the Arizona Corporation Commission. In a similar case, the Attorney General has also brought suit against a Nevada corporation, Arizona Corporate Headquarters, and its principal, former NFL player Gaston Green, (now known as Gaston Muhammad), for mailing more than 137,000 fraudulent “corporate minutes” solicitations to Arizona businesses.
In August 2009, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against Property Tax Review Board, a company that sent solicitations to homeowners requesting a fee of $189 to lower their property tax bill. Property Tax Review Board was unable to assist with property tax reductions as the business was not registered with the Board of Appraisals. Also, the time period to appeal property tax assessments for 2009 and 2010 had lapsed. The Attorney General’s Office obtained a judgment against Property Tax Review Board, enjoining them from conducting this type of fraud in the future and assessing a civil penalty against them in the amount of $7.1 million dollars. Property owners who want to appeal the valuation of their real property can do so, at no cost, by contacting their county assessors’ office.
These lawsuits are simple reminders to consumers to be wary of the advertisements and solicitations they receive in the mail or posted to their front doors. The Arizona Attorney General’s Office advises consumers to read all fine print, do research on companies that are listed on mailers and be cautious about the authenticity of mailings that appear to be from a government agency.
If you believe you have been a victim of consumer fraud, please contact the Attorney General’s Office in Phoenix at 602-542-5763, in Tucson at 520-628-6504, or outside the Phoenix and Tucson metro area at 1-800-352-8431. Consumers can also file complaints online by visiting the Attorney General’s Office Web site at www.azag.gov. To file a complaint in person, the Attorney General’s Office has satellite offices throughout the state with volunteers available to help. Locations and hours of operation are posted on the Attorney General’s Web site.